The Time to Hesitate is Through
Draco was pacing outside the doors to the library and muttering to himself. He was going to crack up if he kept hanging around Luna and didn’t do anything about his feelings for her. He’d almost barged in several times. He didn’t know why he did not. Pevensie was even goading him about Luna now. He could face down a mountain troll, but not one little Ravenclaw? No, he was made of sterner stuff than that. Way sterner stuff if she accidentally brushed up against him.
Draco entered the library finally and had a peek.
He did not see Luna, but he saw Lola. She rushed up to him excitedly.
“Sit,” Draco said, and she did. Immediately.
Luna came out of the stacks to find Draco staring down at Lola, who was staring up at him with what could only be described as adoration. Luna thought it was very cute, how the crup had what could almost be termed as a crush on the man, and he was completely oblivious.
She often found the crup dancing at the door to the library and Draco’s voice fading down the hall. Of course, sometimes Lola also dashed off into the stacks for no apparent reason. Luna had decided that there must be a creature in the stacks that only Lola could sense.
The other crups were more ambivalent towards Draco. Vasel would sit at his feet whenever he came by and Duchess would sit with him only if Luna was busy. It was Lola who had decided that he was her wizard.
“Hello, Draco,” she greeted.
“Hello, Luna,” he said.
He was going to lose his nerve now that he was standing there with her with the crups watching him.
“How are you?”
Lola made a noise. Draco swore it sounded like a disappointed groan.
She picked up Lola, concerned over the noise. Maybe she was upset that Draco was not petting her? The fact that the crup wiggled around to keep an eye on the man seemed like a good indication of that.
“I’m good,” Luna said. There was no point in mentioning that she’d had a nightmare the night before and that her flat was now spotless and even more brightly lit than normal.
“How are you?”
“I’m all right, I suppose,” he replied in a tone that suggested his underpants were two sizes too small. “How are you? No, I just asked that. Nevermind.”
Lola cocked her head to the side at him like he had made a funny noise. Draco stared at her, certain the animal was reading his mind and mocking him.
“It’s not lunch time,” she said with a glance out the windows. “You usually pop in for lunch. Are you hungry? I can ring the kitchen for something.”
Vasel barked behind her. He loved food as much as Pevensie claimed to and had quickly started to associate house elves with nibbles. The elves did not seem to mind, as long as he did not jump on them. In fact, they had taken to delivering homemade crup food with her meals.
“What? No, I’m not hungry. Unless you are. You can get food. Or you could get treats for the crups if you like. But I’m good there. Not hungry.”
Could he sound more like a crazy person. He was talking rapidly as if he’s had too much Pepper-up Potion.
“No,” she dragged the word out a bit. “I’m good.” Draco was standing there, rocking back and forth on his heels. “Is something wrong?”
“Well, I suppose that depends on your point of view on things. It could be wrong. Some people would even say it is, but it might be that so wrong it’s kind of right wrong, you know? You don’t know. I sound crazy, and I’m probably frightening you.”
He had half a mind to turn around and flee.
“I’m not easily frightened,” she rebutted. Lola jumped from her arms and went to sit at Draco’s feet, looking up at him expectantly. Luna had no idea why, since Draco never had treats for the crups. Sometimes he had biscuits for her, but never for the crups.
“I am a bit confused, though. Admittedly, it’s not hard to confuse me. Is it a wrackspurt problem?”
“No, no, I don’t think so. It’s just... well you’re you.” Draco looked down at Lola. “Stop it. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m getting to it. You can’t just jump in on things like this.”
“Well, we shall have to just agree to disagree, madam.”
Now he was scared to look at Luna. He’d just argued with a crup. Oh how the mighty had fallen.
“I’m me,” she agreed after a moment. “It would be terribly confusing if I were someone else. At least for more than a few hours. It could be fun for a short time. I wonder if that’s why polyjuice was invented, so that witches and wizards could forget their own worries for a bit. Of course, in school, the older kids always whispered that polyjuice was invented for sexy role playing, which I suppose would count as forgetting your own troubles. But why would you want to have sex as someone else? That never made sense to me.”
Lola barked, reminding her that not everyone enjoyed her babbles.
“Sorry. You were saying?”
Draco could not think of one thing to say to that.
“To hell with it,” he muttered.
Then he leaned in and kissed her.
Luna sucked in a sharp breath when Draco put his mouth on hers. Her eyes went wide and she stiffened up. She was vaguely aware of Lola dancing at their feet. After a moment, Draco pulled away.
“Who was the bet with,” she asked. There was no rancor in her voice. It would not be the first time someone had been bet to kiss her. “Zabini? One of your other friends?”
His mouth was hanging open in horror for several seconds. Then he snapped it closed and pointed at her.
“First off, I don’t take bets to kiss people. If I kiss someone it’s because I damn well want to. Why do you think I’m as tense as a two tailed cat in a room full of rockers every time I’m near you? I don’t normally act this much like a lunatic. Don’t tell me you don’t notice me sniffing your hair all the time. Second, who did that to you before? You tell me, and I’ll turn their kneecaps backwards, the stupid gits.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. If I sought revenge on everyone who pulled a harmless prank on me, then I’d never have time for anything else. And you should have at least done it in public, with witnesses. So that you would have proof.”
She turned away and headed for the stacks. It was
a harmless prank and she should not be so upset about it. But she had thought that Draco was honestly her friend.
“Wait,” she said, stopping suddenly and causing him to stumble into her. She had not even realized that he’d been following her. “Why did you not do it in front of witnesses? That makes no sense.”
Draco actually shook his fists at the ceiling before look at her and putting his hands on her upper arms.
“Listen very closely. I fancy you. I follow you about. I’ve memorized your schedule. You think I just pop up randomly? No, I go looking for you. I don’t need any sodding witnesses because I’m not doing this to prove anything to anyone. Except maybe to you. It kills me that I might be part of the reason that you don’t think yourself worth a bloke’s time. You are. I don’t waste my time on people who aren’t. I try to choose the best, the most interesting, and that’s you.”
He paused to consider things some more.
“With your lavender smelling hair and the nargles and your alphabetizing. There couldn’t be a more interesting girl. Doesn’t hurt a bit that you’re rather easy on the eyes as well as fascinating.”
Luna blinked at him and sat down abruptly. Of course, she was in the middle of the aisle and nowhere near a chair, but she found herself seated anyway.
“But... Why? I’m just me. No one special. At all.”
Draco crouched down in front of her. “You’re special to me. I tried not to be attracted to you because I knew you wouldn’t feel the same way, but I can’t help it. I like you. You’re so different from any of the other people I’ve been with, and this is good because most of those bints were scary crazy. You are lovely to my eyes.”
He tucked some hair behind her ear, touching her cheek a bit as he did so. She was so backwards in how she saw herself. All he saw was how kind and generous and without guile she was. She was his opposite.
Luna swallowed thickly. “But, I am crazy, Draco. Maybe not scary crazy, but honestly crazy. I try to hide it the best I can, but people still notice. The alphabetizing and the smell of mold. I have night light smells in every room of my flat because I can’t stand the dark. My last boyfriend told me that I was ‘round the bend and went off with his secretary.”
“Well, he’s an idiot. Anyone who claims to be completely sane is lying. We’re all a little mad. We all have our issues. You don’t think I have mine? Just ask anyone. You do what you need to do to function. You’re afraid of the dark? I’m afraid of dying alone. Yet, I have done plenty to alienate myself in my life. I happen to be my own worst enemy at times. I like the alphabetizing, and don’t hide the crazy. I guarantee people think you’re more sane than I am. Have you ever accidentally set your pants on fire? While wearing them? Luna, I like you just as you are. You don’t have to hide from me. I’ve pretty much seen it all. I took care of a man who spent every day sitting in a cupboard for the last few years pretending to be dead because he wished he was. You’re less crazy, okay?”
“Why on earth would you set your own pants on fire? Was it accidental magic? None of my mishaps involved fire. I did make a bunch of flowers explode once, but I think that’s because they were hiding a bee.”
“Oh I meant to start the fire... just not on my pants.”
Now he didn’t know what to say.
Luna sat and silently regarded him. He was handsome, yes, but she had never thought of him as more than a friend. Was that because she couldn’t
or because she wouldn’t
? He had kissed her twice now and she had felt no sparks, which put a check in the couldn’t column. Except that she had not been looking for a spark either time, which made both kisses inconclusive.
Which meant that the experiment needed to be repeated.
She had a brief thought that he would not like being referred to as an experiment as she grabbed his shirt and pulled him in for another kiss.
To say Draco was surprised when Luna did this would have been a great understatement. It took him a few seconds to figure out what had happened. When he finally caught up, he decided he was going to make this one count just in case she decided she didn’t want to do this again. He could feel her slight jump of surprise when he started kissing her back.
He was still crouched on the floor. In fact, her grabbing his shirt like that had nearly toppled him over. Draco had never been one to settle for his mouth being the only thing touching someone in a kiss, so he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her up out of her seated position. His arms tightened around her back to hold her close.
For a brief moment, Luna thought that all the stress over him liking her was for naught. And then he kissed her back. Oh! Oh, how he kissed her back!
Luna made a funny little noise in the back of her throat and grabbed at him with her free hand. She ended up clutching the back of his shirt, holding on as if a Thestral was trying to buck her off. Which was funny, since Thestrals always allowed her to ride them.
Draco only stopped because he knew they had to breathe. He stared at her for a moment with eyes that had to be wide and full of wonder. Every other man she had ever come into contact with was a complete idiot, he decided. He was feeling very chipper at the possibility of her not being repulsed by his advances, so when he felt there had been enough breathing, he leaned in and kissed her again.
Her mind had just started to clear when he kissed her again. One tiny part of her, somehow still aware of everything going on, cataloging the details and the sensations, realized that if they made a thing out of this, and she did believe that they were going to, then she would need to get used to not thinking.
Draco finally pulled back again and Luna kneeled there for a moment, panting. Her forehead came to rest on his shoulder as she tried to gather her thoughts.
“I don’t know how to do this,” she whispered after a moment.
“How to do what?” he asked quietly. “Because from my point of view, things seemed to have gone rather well just then. Seemed quite like you know what you were about.”
Draco started playing with her hair. He sort of felt like pinching himself. He’d never thought in a million years that this would turn out with her resting her head on his shoulder and not running from the library screaming.
“I don’t know how to be in a relationship,” she clarified. “Do we go on a date now? Do I have to worry about having spinach in my teeth and whether or not I shaved my legs recently? What happens next?”
“Well, I don’t either,” Draco said. “We could go out on a date if you wanted or we could stay in on a date. We can do whatever you want. If you have spinach in your teeth, don’t worry, I’ll tell you. Shave your legs if you want to. Next is whatever we want it to be. There aren’t rules, and even if there are, I think you and I being you and I ought not play by them.”
Draco sat back on his heels and looked at her for a long time.
“What do you want this to be? Because I’d like to continue like we have been just with more kissing and... stuff.”
Luna felt her face heat up. “Kissing and stuff would be nice. But I don’t want to lose you as a friend. We can date and keep our friendship, right? And... Can we keep it... Mostly between us? For now, at least. Just until we’re settled into the idea?”
“I.... okay,” Draco said.
He didn’t like the idea of keeping things a secret, but he could understand her not wanting to announce to the world that she was dating the son of the man who’d kidnapped her once. Her being friendly with some of the people she was friends with did not make Draco Malfoy an ideal choice for a suitor. He could practically hear Potter already. Perhaps she needed to to gather herself and figure out how to tell her friends. He could do that. He could be patient and let her do that.
Though his first impulse was to take out an ad in the Prophet about them dating and end it with the words so there
“I should warn you, though. Just about everyone in this building knows I fancy you. Apparently I’m very much not with the subtle, and I’m pretty sure Mr. Pokeby has it all figured out. And the crups,” Draco said, gesturing.
All the animals were sitting side by side and watching the two humans with interest.
She looked from the crups to Draco and then back to the crups. All three had what could only be described as smirks on their faces. Lola looked particularly pleased about it, as if she had arranged their kiss herself.
“I had no inkling,” she reassured him. “Everyone else did? Really? How strange.” Was she really that oblivious? She liked to think that she saw more than the average witch, but maybe she really did not.
“I know,” Draco said. “If it had been anyone but you, I’d have sworn you were torturing me on purpose. You like to stand close and are not always aware of when your body touches mine - not that I mind that. I quite like it, actually. Perhaps a bit too much, in fact.”
She eased back from him, suddenly self-conscious of their closeness. He’d said he hadn’t minded... But still.
“Sorry. I don’t always notice the social cues that other people put out.” It had been one of the many things that Eric had listed as when he had expounded on what was wrong with her. She had ignored his diatribe most of the time, but knowing that Draco, Draco of all people, was interested in her... She really hoped that he did not expect her to change if they were dating. She liked herself the way she was and would hate to lose their friendship because of it.
Draco edged closer to her. “I like that you don’t notice. Means I can stand as close to you as I want because you’d stand that close to me and not notice. You’re different. I like that you’re different. I notice social cues most of the time but just choose to ignore them. Just be yourself. I plan on being myself with you, and if you still want me around after that, then I’ll count myself lucky.”
He moved then and sat down next to her. Lola crawled into his lap.
“I feel like you don’t judge me,” he said.
“Why would I judge you?” Luna settled into a cross-legged position and Duchess took that as the cue to climb into her lap. She glanced at Draco with a superior look before closing her eyes. Vasel stretched out next to Draco’s leg and wriggled his head under her knee.
“Because I’m Draco Malfoy,” he said. “I have a tattoo that says what an idiot I am. I did bad things.”
“There’s a lot of people who have tattoos that they regret. Yours is just a bit more magical than theirs. The Ministry decided that you did not need to pay a debt to society.”
“It’s nice you think that now. Not everyone does. It’s why I fit here. So... if you don’t want to let everyone know about this, I am guessing taking you out on a real date is out of the question. Would you be opposed to watching a moo-vee with me here. In one of the TeeVee rooms? I’m certain Pevensie could show me how to work the thing to play it.”
“A moo-vee would be fine. Or a quiet restaurant, if you want to go out. Or I could cook for us, if you want to stay in. Just, nothing big. Not yet. Not until we’re both used to the idea.” Because she did not want to hear the comments about how he could do so much better. Not yet.
“I don’t care what we do, so long as you’re there. I think you let me worry about dinner, and we’ll stay in and watch a moo-vee. Just us. I think a bowl of popcorn. Maybe share a blanket?”
He wiggled his eyebrows playfully at her.
“That sounds nice, though I doubt it will be cold enough to need a blanket.” It was only after she spoke that Luna noticed his eyebrow movements. She felt like slapping herself on the forehead. Instead, she blushed. Again.
“Oh. Um... Not on the first date?”
He absolutely could not help the stupid grin he was certain was on his face at her blushing.
“Fair enough. Contrary to popular belief, I can be patient,” he said, scooting a disgruntled Lola from his lap. “I suppose I should let you get back to work then?”
Draco held out a hand to help her up.
Luna dislodged Duchess and let Draco pull her to his feet. She used to love it when her father did the same thing. He’d always use enough force to pull her up off her feet, giving her just an instant of flying. Draco did not do that, but then again, he did not know that she liked it.
Her father. She’d have to tell him about this. And introduce Draco. That could be interesting.
“What night? Friday is traditional, yes?”
“A Friday or a Saturday from what I understand, yes.”
He was still holding her hand and was feeling quite pleased with himself for not being a total maniac who tossed her on one of the library tables to make out with her.
“I work late Saturday night, so it would have to be Friday. Unless you want to be nontraditional? Would it be absolutely shocking to go on a date on a Wednesday?”
“I think it would,” Draco said, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles and stepping closer to her. “Us being us, perhaps we should go nontraditional. Especially since we’ve already established that there are to be no rules and that neither of us know how to do this properly anyhow.”
She squeezed his hand a bit. It was warm and comforting and she quickly decided that she liked holding his hand.
“Wednesday it is, then,” Luna agreed. “Around seven? Should I bring anything?”
“Just yourself,” he said with a bit of a smirk before leaning over and kissing her cheek very softly.
Then he strolled, yes strolled, out of the library whistling.
Luna touched her cheek. This was going to take her a bit to process. Dating Draco Malfoy. Wow.
Lola barked, bringing Luna’s attention to the little crup. Lola was looking very smug again, her tails wagging slowly.
“He likes me more than you,” Luna said. The crup just barked again.